Adventures in the Dirt

Spring 2020 As I mentioned in my last “Adventures in the Dirt” post, I’m giving the gardening thing another go. I’m all in this year, planting as much as possible and trying several new things. I’d love to share how my garden is growing with you! Pictured above is a Marigold. I’ve never grown them before, so when it started coming up I wondered if it was a weed (we have some pretty weeds in central Texas). As it grew bigger I decided it wasn’t like any weed I’d ever seen, so I took my plant identifying app to it, and sure enough – it was a Marigold! Yay! A couple of other new flowers I’m attempting to grow are Sunflowers and Nasturtium. Flowers are a little more of a challenge for me. The Nasturtium is struggling a little as you can see in this picture. I’m attempting to resolve it’s issues.
The sunflowers are doing fairly well. I think it’s about time to stake them. I planted two seeds in each space and they all sprouted. I attempted to transplant one and so far, it’s not doing great. I’m waiting to see if it bounces back before I move any of the others.

I’m also attempting tomatoes in pots with Basil as a companion. The Basil is looking beautiful!
The netting over the top is part of a squirrel guard my sweetie made for me. Squirrels are a huge problem in my yard. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to replant because of those little buggers! So, my ever creative husband built these “squirrel guards” out of PVC pipe, deer netting, and zip ties. The smaller one in the background is wood. He originally made two like that for the smaller containers a couple of years ago. The big one below was just made a few days ago. I love them! They’re all super light and easy to move around. Best of all, they keep the squirrels out of my plants!

There’s another tomato and Basil pot at the other end. The black containers are; beans and peas, carrots and onion, Beefsteak tomato, and Spinach and strawberries. Strawberries are very difficult to grow from seed, so I’ve ordered some plants just in case. Spinach is a cool weather plant. Since things are starting to heat up around here already, the spinach may not get very far. The raised bed in the background is a cinder block one that hasn’t been used in a couple of years. At the time of the above picture, it just had weeds in it. Yesterday, however, we turned it into this:
I had Arugula, lettuce, and Swiss Chard growing in pots and decided to give them a little more room and see how they do. The pot on the ledge is a pepper plant and I’m hoping to put him in the ground pretty soon too.

I have another raised bed where the Nasturtium and Marigold live with some lettuce, a failed attempt at turnips, and some newly planted cucumber. My hubby is just starting to build a combination squirrel guard/cucumber trellis. The netting on this one will have a Velcro closure that I can open and close when I need to work in there instead of having to lift it off. That wouldn’t work so well for the cucumbers.
The little guard sitting in the bed right now is protecting my cucumbers which have just started to pop!
I’ve had great success with cucumbers in the past. I’m hoping this year will be successful as well. Cucumbers are one of my sweetie’s favorites.

I have several other things growing in pots; Chrysanthemums in bloom,

some Sweet Basil and Peppermint (2 peppermint plants),

more Italian Basil (we love Basil),

some English Thyme,

a little Calendula just starting,

and this surprise planter. I put several flowers and herbs in here. Then, a cute little squirrel came and dug a bunch of it up. I have no idea what was left and now that Rich put another of his guards on it, I’ll have a chance to find out!

One of my most exciting additions to the garden (two actually) is a Lilac bush and a Gardenia! Gardenias are my absolute favorite flower and Lilacs are a close second! I’ve wanted to grow them for years, but was always too intimidated. This year I decided to go for it. They have both rewarded me with one little bloom.

It will be a few years before they bloom seriously, but this was very exciting for me. I’m planning to ask Rich to make guards for them too.

A couple more pics before you go:
A little visitor to our backyard, and the new raised bed that we’re hoping to finish once we can get dirt to fill it.
The original plan was to have a co-op garden with my daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids. This stage of construction on the raised bed is as far as we got before the world went crazy and “stay-at-home” orders were issued. I’m hoping maybe we can make this a fall garden bed.

Phew! That was a lot! I guess I’m feeling a little ambitious this year! Not to mention having plenty of time on my hands. I hope you are all staying safe and find plenty of things to fill your life with joy despite current events. May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts!


At-Home Anniversary

Day 25 of our state-wide lockdown and my and my husband’s 26th wedding anniversary. It feels a little weird. In the past, we’ve enjoyed a weekend away or even just a day trip somewhere. Last year for our 25th we enjoyed a whole week in Branson, Missouri. This year we won’t be going out to dinner, or to a movie, or anywhere outside our house. And our anniversary is even on a Friday this year! Friday is a perfect night for a night on the town! Normally.

Things aren’t normal right now though. Rich is still working, that much is normal. I’m still at home all day, that’s pretty normal. Except for the occasional coffee date with a friend, shopping with my daughter, or visit to my sister’s I don’t get out a whole lot. What’s not normal for us is the ability to come and go as we please and without a medical mask. The inability to celebrate our anniversary with dinner at a favorite restaurant is not normal.

What’s life without a little adventure though, right? Opportunities to be creative are what make us grow and expand our horizons. So, while this anniversary might be different for sure, it can still be special. I just need to get a little creative. 🤔

Glorious Day

I just spent the better part of an hour outside in the most absolutely perfect weather (to me). A sunny sixty-six degrees with a light, occasional breeze. I have never wanted a hammock more in my life.

The distant sound of a neighbor’s lawn equipment, mourning doves cooing, other birds singing, the breeze dancing in the trees all served to lull me into a peaceful doze.

We have high-back swivel chairs that also rock on our back deck – not as good as a hammock, but suitable for dozing. One could easily forget that the world is in turmoil in that setting, and I did – for the better part of an hour.

☀️🍃🌸 😊

Poetry Corner

book close up color decoration

This poem was originally written ten years ago for my sisters-in-Christ. It’s about spending quality time with Jesus, something that’s more important than ever in today’s world. May you be blessed with His peace and comfort! 💕💕

Take Me Away

Take me away to a quiet place.
Let me gaze contentedly upon Your lovely face.
Speak to me in gentle tones,
Just you and I, together alone.
Let me feel Your presence and hear Your voice.
I long for You only, as if I had no choice.

Take me away to a quiet place.
Let me rest in the safety of Your loving embrace.
Where peace like a lazy river flows,
And perfumes the air like a sweet smelling rose.
No chaos, no drama, no stresses of life.
Just tranquility and comfort, freedom from strife.

Take me away, just You and me,
To a quiet place where we can just be.

                                                                                            ©Brenda Lenz, 2020

Not Afraid to be Vulnerable

I did something today that I didn’t really want to do. I was afraid that it would offend some people. I was afraid that I wouldn’t explain myself clearly. I was afraid that it would create a backlash that I wasn’t willing to deal with. I was just plain afraid. I did it anyway.

Christians are called to share their lives with one another; to confess our sins to and pray for each other – “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” -James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭NASB.; to share life’s ups and downs – ‬‬Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” -Romans‬ ‭12:15‬ ‭NASB; and to help each other in times of trouble – ‬‬Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” -Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭NASB. We call it fellowship. I consider myself a Christian yet I have failed at fellowship more times than I can count.

This past year and a half has been a tough one since my diagnosis, and I have gone from not too bad to worse, symptom-wise. I have stopped a lot of doing and going. I don’t go grocery shopping alone anymore, I don’t go anywhere where there’s not a table to lean on or a particular type of chair to sit in. I haven’t been to church in months, and in that absence I have had one person keep in touch with me on a regular basis. Not what I expected from the church.

On the flip-side, I have not reached out either. Maybe a stray notecard here and there, Facebook likes or comments on a post now and then, but no real connection. It’s been easy to get wrapped up in my own life and adjusting to my “new normal”. It’s easy to sit here and take on a victim role. That’s not healthy and thats not how I want my life to go. Playing the bitter victim just leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and I don’t like it. So, I did what I did today.

A couple of days ago I joined a group of women from my church doing a YouVersion devotional together. Today, Day 2, some of the women shared how much they appreciated the women at our church, how they were always there for them and it meant so much. I commented on how my experience had been the opposite. I shared, basically, that I wanted to change the lack of fellowship I felt within the church we’d been attending for about 8 years.

I wasn’t bitter or angry, I just wanted to be honest. I own my part in the situation, and I guess if I were to be really honest I wanted them to own theirs. I wanted to know that my absence didn’t go unnoticed. Fellowship is a two-way street and sometimes some of us are more needy than others. I’ve said this before and I need to remember it as much as the next person. We can’t share life’s ups and downs, and bear one another’s burdens, if we don’t share!‬‬ I assumed more people knew my situation than maybe actually did. I should have expressed myself sooner.

None of us are perfect. We ALL get wrapped up in our own families and day-to-day lives, and next thing we know it’s next month – or even next year! This has to change! Especially within the church! We need to get back to making time for other people. When I was a kid and someone invited our family for dinner, it was common practice to return the favor. Nowadays it seems like hospitality is almost a lost art. I can’t remember the last time anyone invited us to dinner and vice versa. Well, actually, I can remember the last time we had company for dinner, but it was Thanksgiving. I don’t think that counts.

It’s never easy to express disappointment or say something that might rock the boat. Although when I was younger it was a different story. My mother used to tell me I was tactless. I just thought of it as being honest. Sometimes I think I need to be that young girl again, not afraid to tell it like I see it. I think we should all be as honest, sprinkled with some love and grace. We in the church especially. Jesus was honest. He told it like He saw it with no apology. I want to be like Him. Speaking the truth in love, His kind of love – honest and fearless. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear . . . 1 John‬ ‭4:18‬a ‭NASB‬‬. I want to be better at fellowship and not afraid to be vulnerable with those considered my sisters-in-Christ. I pray that for all of us and that today was a start.


The Wind and The Waves

A lot of us are familiar with the story of Peter walking on the water toward Jesus. “And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”” -Matthew‬ ‭14:25-31‬ ‭NASB‬‬

How many of us right now have taken our focus off of Jesus and put it on the storm happening all around us? It is so easy to get caught up in the wind and waves of the news; whole countries on fire, earthquakes where there normally aren’t any, global pandemic with alarming fatality numbers! Just to name a few of the waves. Worldwide storms as well as storms right in our own homes threaten our sense of peace and security. The enemy seeks “only to steal and kill and destroy”, but Jesus came that we “may have life, and have it abundantly.” -John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭NASB‬‬. Life is much richer, and we are more productive and helpful to others, when we aren’t drowning in fear.

When we trust that God is in control and His plans for us are good – “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” -‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NASB‬ we can be at peace regardless of life’s circumstances. This doesn’t mean that we are exempt from having anything bad happen to us. It means that what happens to us will have purpose and our souls are protected. The Lord will be with us and see us through it all. We don’t need to fear illness, calamity, or even death. Death is merely the vehicle that delivers us into His Presence – the best place we could ever be!

It’s sad, yes. This life is full of heartache and pain, we all experience it and we don’t always know the whys and wherefores. And yet, for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ there is peace and hope in all circumstances. We can focus on Jesus and walk above the storm. It doesn’t mean that we’re not affected, it means we’re affected differently. “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;” -‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Don’t focus on the storm around you. Read the news, keep up to date with what’s happening, but keep your FOCUS on Jesus, the One who controls the storm. In Him there is calm and peace . . . and hope! Always hope!

Love & prayers,
Brenda 🙏🏻💕😊

Holy Unto Thee

person sitting on rock on body of water

Though earth bound
Sin all around
I long to be
Holy unto Thee

Though perfection evades
And temptation persuades
I long to be
Holy unto Thee

Though I fall
I hear Your call
And long to be
Holy unto Thee

Though earth bound
I have found
That through the flood
Of Christ’s shed blood
Forever I will be
Holy unto Thee

©Brenda Lenz, 2020

He’ll See You Through

woman looking at sunset

When the days are dark
Hold on to His hand
Seek His face
He’ll show you the way

Victory is yours
When you rest assured
In the Father’s hands
There’s always a plan

Don’t lose hope
He’ll help you cope
Just seek His face
And His loving embrace

Put Him first
In all you do
Follow Him
He’ll see you through

                                                   ©Brenda Lenz, 2020

C.D. Journals – January 20, 2020

I haven’t written one of these in quite awhile so, I felt an update was in order. There are a couple of new things to chronicle. I got an emotional support kitten in September. 😉😂 It sounds funny, but she really is. It’s quite uncanny. She shows up whenever I’m crying and curls up on my chest, purring like a motorboat – and I mean EVERY time! She’s a gift from God!

My sweet Rich bought me a new vehicle right before Christmas – a 2020 Equinox with all kinds of sensors on it. Driving has gotten more uncomfortable as my head increasingly wants to stick to the left. I couldn’t drive our Cruze at all. The Equinox is wonderful. It has lane assist, blind spot sensors, collision warnings, and a sunroof! It is SO comfortable for me to drive. I can see really well in it.

And the icing on the cake that makes it so comfortable is the headrest pillow my sweet sissy got for me. It makes a world of difference.

As far as therapy goes, there’s not a lot of change. I’m trying not to get discouraged. Especially since I pretty much fell off the therapy wagon over the holidays. I’m trying to get back on now and building momentum is a challenge, but I’m confident I’ll get there. I turn 60 this year and I’m really hoping to “roll into recovery”, as the clinic director puts it, for my birthday. I’ve got about eight months.

It is increasingly difficult for me to get myself out in the world lately. Even with my wonderful new vehicle, I just feel uncomfortable in public. People either look at me funny and don’t say anything or they ask me what’s wrong with my neck. I used to try and explain Cervical Dystonia, but that got too complicated and I’d lose them quickly. Now I just say that I have a movement disorder and they seem to understand that better.

My head wants to stay turned to the left. I have to constantly hold it. For the few seconds when I don’t because I can’t figure a way to do something one-handed, my head feels like it wants to spin around and my muscles scream against it. The two places I am most comfortable are my bedroom chair and my living room chair with a pillow under the arm that’s supporting my head – both chairs are recliners. I like being comfortable so guess where I spend a lot of my time. I see that as a problem.

Life is a constant flow of issues that I need to work on it seems. Most recently just accepting the diagnosis, then learning to accept the new “normal”, and now dealing with progression of the disorder and increased social anxiety. Sigh! If I didn’t have Jesus and my husband by my side every day I don’t know where I’d be.

I haven’t “rolled into recovery” and the Lord hasn’t healed me yet. I have no idea whether either of those things will ever happen. One thing I can say for sure is that I am well taken care – spoiled even. Especially by my sweet, amazing husband who tells me he loves me every day. He is always there for me and will drop what he’s doing any time of the day or night to help me if I need it.

This is a picture of the sweetest, kindest, most selfless man I have ever known. God blessed me so greatly the day this guy came into my life almost 28-years ago and I am so thankful he stayed. He helps me to not give up and reminds me that regardless of the circumstances, life is worth fighting for. QUALITY of life is worth fighting for. With this man by my side, my life is indeed quality!


Embassy Suites Austin Arboretum Review

For years I have wanted to take a little getaway at the beginning of the new year to refresh, renew, and reevaluate. We finally did it last week. My hubby and I traveled to the faraway land of Austin, Texas (about a 30-minute drive from our house 😂) for the weekend. We stayed in what used to be one of our favorite hotel chains – Embassy Suites.

We actually haven’t stayed in one in years so it was a bit of a step back in time, almost literally. It looked exactly the same as we remembered. The layout and decor anyway. We’ve never stayed at this particular hotel. One thing that made this Embassy Suites unique were the swans. Real live Royal swans living in the atrium.

We’d never seen that before. Their names are Butch and Sundance, and they’re brothers. Apparently British royalty used to keep these as pets inside the palace because they are basically defenseless against predators. We never heard a peep out of them and they seemed quite content in their indoor habitat.

Aside from the swans it was almost everything we remembered. Strangely enough I didn’t see that as a good thing. It felt like we had stepped into a time capsule; dated. It was in good shape. Nothing was run down, it just felt . . . dated. That’s the best word for it, I think. The atrium was beautiful, the room was clean and spacious – no valid complaints there.

One of the reasons my husband has always liked Embassy Suites is their complimentary, cook-to-order breakfast. That always felt a step above your typical Holiday Inn or Marriott. Who wouldn’t prefer a fresh, hot breakfast over a dry muffin, eggs of questionable origin, and so-so coffee?

I opted for the buffet breakfast while hubs went for his favorite, cooked-to-order omelette. I was not impressed. While it was adequate, the quality wasn’t what I remembered, and there was no bacon on the buffet table! What’s a vaca breakfast without bacon? Lacking, that’s what it is! My sweetie, on the other hand, was quite satisfied although he mentioned a slight decline in quality as well. Maybe it’s just a case of memory being better than reality?

All-in-all it was definitely a pleasant stay. We got a lot of planning done, slept well, and had no major complaints. Parking was free (something you don’t always get in the city), there were two pools and lots of lovely seating both indoors and out. There was a workout room, a 24-hour snack shop with coffee, and a complimentary lemonade station near the elevators. The staff were very friendly and accommodating, and for just over $100/night for a two-bedroom king suite we felt it was a weekend well spent! If you don’t mind a more traditional decor and you find yourself in North Austin needing a good night’s sleep, I would recommend the Embassy Suites Austin Arboretum.

Happy travels! 🚗😊💕